Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Danger of Premature Celebration

This take may be a few days late but talking with some friends over the weekend I realized that my interest in this years Olympic coverage was colored by my misgivings about the current U.S. role in the world. Everytime a U.S. athlete won a medal and reached for an American flag to drape themselves, I found it very uncomfortable. Now I am no America hater - I love this country, but while we are fighting this "War on Terra" spreading democracy by force, it is difficult to mesh that with the true Olympic Message of peace through athletic competition. Now add to that the incredible arrogance of U.S. poster boy Bode Miller. NBC hyped this guy to the hilt only to watch him fail miserably then act like he couldn't care less. For me these games were hard to watch.

There were a few bright spots - examples of unsung U.S. athletes rising to the occasion and performing at their best. But, the lasting image of the games for me was a performance in the women's snowboard cross. An event described as NASCAR on snow - a full contact race to the finish line. Lindsey Jacobellis battled her way through preliminary races aggressively avoiding contact. Then in the finals she jumped quickly to the front of the pack with flawless technique propelling her to a huge lead as she approached the finish line. But a sure gold medal slipped from her grasp because she attempted a "hot dog" "show off "move over the last jump. She celebrated too early causing her to fail miserably. Jacobellis was passed for the gold medal then compounded her poor judgment by trying to explain her blunder with a lame excuse about wind conditions.

At that moment I couldn't help but wonder what, as a nation, we've been teaching our kids? Have we set the example that it is more about style than substance and when you make a mistake excuses and fibs are the acceptable way of answering for your actions.

Gee, where would Lindsey Jacobellis get an idea like that?


  1. Nice call on Jacobellis!

    My take on Bode Miller is a little different than yours. I think the hype surrounding him was mostly a creation of the media, and he doesn’t like it! While he seemed to contribute to it with a couple of prominent interviews, I think his somewhat inappropriate responses in those interviews were his way of saying “I’m not going to be the poster boy for U.S. claims of superiority!” I think his poor performance and seeming lack of focus this year was in part due to a reluctance to be a catalyst for Americans feeling superior simply out of a vicarious connection to him!

    He is a talented skier, but I think he knows how good the foreign competition is, and that he never expected himself to win everything. He just likes to race, and if he wins, he wins! It’s the media and the corporate sponsors who expected him to win, and called him a failure when he didn’t. I don’t think his response was arrogance, so much as indifference to American cheerleading!

    I also think that of all the athletes on the U.S Olympic team, Bode may be the one who is most likely to read a blog like this!

  2. Although a friend once sat between Bode and Herman Maier at a banquet sponsored by Atomic (who supplies the skis they all use), I have no inside information on Bode, and am merely playing amateur psychologist based on the interviews I've seen with him.

  3. I see your point about Miller. And in the interview I saw with him he sure didn't seem welcoming of the hype. I was trying to point out NBC failings as much as his in that area. But it all added to the lameness of this winter olympics. Too much coporate hype followed by athletes with bad attitudes performing in venues that were half empty.

  4. Yeah, but isn't that Jimmy Roberts a sensitive, caring guy? His every word brought a tear to my eye, and that little smile - I just wanted to reach into the television and give him a hug!


    Unfortunately, I wasn't in the target group for most of the Olympics coverage because I actually like sports!